Spokane Native American tribe and “The Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in Heaven” by Sherman Alexie

The January of 1881, formally established a new home for the Spokane Native American tribe, the Spokane Indian Reservation. The reservation consists of 108,874 acres of forest, 8552 acres of agricultural land, and 10,328 acres of lakes. The history of the reservation is full of struggles, poverty and colonialization. “The Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in Heaven” by Sherman Alexie is a story depicting the stories of the Native Americans and how their cultural and personal lives were affected.

Years after the colonization of the North America, the Native Americans still have not been treated the best in a lot of fields. The lack of respect is still there in the modern time for the Native Americans. The story is about today’s time for the Native Americans of Spokane Indian Reservation and how the author is held down by the racial indifferences he experienced throughout his life. This paper focuses on post-colonialism on the Spokane Indian Reservation and how the stereotypes still affect their lifestyle today.

The Native Americans tribes are facing many issues one of which is unemployment. In the story, the author moves to Seattle with his white girlfriend away from his reservation and his family where even in the modern time, it is hard to survive. At the end of the story when the author returns to the reservation and his mother asks him what he wants to do, he says, “Don’t know and normally, for almost any other Indian in the country that would have been a perfectly fine answer”. This shows that the reservation does not have a lot of opportunities for the people as they don’t have any kind of motivation and don’t know what to do with their lives and either have to move to other places or do nothing.

The history of the Spokane Indian Tribe consists of hunter gatherer people when various hunters just moved from one site to another to hunt or harvest on which they relied for survival and trade. The tribal people including men, women and children struggled a lot for their survival. Even today, the reservation families are overcrowded but eight out if ten members are unemployed and those employed hardy earn above the poverty wages. Often people have to leave their households while searching for work so that they could make an earning.

The author being followed by the police and recognized as he does not fit the profile of

the neighbourhood is another example of racial discrimination. People are scared by the author as is the 7-11 cashier when he sees him entering his shop. The author’s brown skin and long dark hair makes him suspicious which shows that the white sees him as an inappropriate person for the society. Similarly, the reservation people back then were under pressure by the white people which resulted in a lot of problems like depression, anxiety and suicidal attempt which led to increase in the suicide rates. A lot of Native American students still tend to have depression mostly because of bullying and racial discrimination.

There were wars between the native Americans and the white settlers for the tribal lands as well which also resulted a disturbed lifestyle for the Spokane tribe. As the former economy of the Spokane tribe was destroyed, and they had a lot of poverty, they were not able to get over poverty and other social issues which even today they are suffering by being pressurized, bullied and not accepted by white and the neighbourhood. Hence, the Native Americans are still full of sadness and the schools have resulted in causing traumas for a lot of children.

The crazy dreams as referred by the author are the dreams, he is dreaming about not ending up with his girlfriend happily. In the dream as he gets shot by the missionary and the people of his start attacking the white shows his hatred towards the white. He decides to leave his girlfriend as soon as he wakes up from his dream because in the dream he gets killed and does not end up in a happy relation with his girlfriend, therefore he thinks about leaving rather than living sadly with a white girl and getting killed. This shows that the author is scared about the fact that he is living with a white girl despite of the conflicts between Spokane tribe and the white.

The Spokane tribe was forced to leave their lands and settle in the reservation in the 1870s. A lot of people tried to stick to their land but either got killed or forcefully moved. Due to this fact many native Americans are still scared and discouraged by the fact that they are native Americans and they live in reservations. That is why even in his dreams the narrator thinks about being killed and then his tribe attacking white people. The Native Americans who stood up for their rights have become the victims of assassination and social differences. Furthermore, a lot of the people of reservation being unemployed and facing anxiety not knowing what to do with their lives when move to other places get lost.

The relations between U.S and the Native Americans are not so good, and the Native Americans are not as supported as they should be. When the narrator says, “there were plenty of places I wanted to be, but none where I was supposed to be” shows sadness and aimless life lived by the narrator. Narrator was not motivated enough to pursue something in his life and that was probably the reason he kept fighting with his girlfriend. The continuous fights between narrator and his girlfriend is used for depicting not so good relations between the native americans and the white. Even at the end of the story when the narrator finds a job and his saying that, “Sometimes I wonder if people on the other end of the line know that I’m Indian(Native American) and if their voices would change if they did know” again shows that the narrator thinks white people don’t like them and they would not like to talk to him if they knew he was Indian.

To conclude, there is a lot of struggle and fights in the history of Spokane tribe and Spokane Indian Reservation also related to the white explained in the above passage. Also, the last words spoken by the narrator’s girlfriend to him, “I want to change the world” speaks about changing the lives of tribal people or people and places still struggling for their rights and therefore shows how the Native Americans are suffering and fighting for a good lifestyle.